Central Ohio is a fishing destination for saugeye, crappie, and more


COLUMBUS – Central Ohio’s public lakes and reservoirs are an excellent place to fish for saugeye, crappie, smallmouth bass, and catfish, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. Summer is a great time to grab a fishing pole and head to the nearest body of water.

Including Lake Erie, the Ohio River, the thousands of inland lakes, reservoirs and ponds, and miles of streams, Ohio has plentiful public fishing opportunities. At $25 for a resident one-year license, fishing is an inexpensive and outdoor recreational activity that is accessible for all. Youth under the age of 16 can fish for free, and all Ohio residents can fish without purchasing a license during Free Fishing Days on June 15-16. All size and daily limits apply during these two days.

The Division of Wildlife has numerous resources available to assist anglers, including lake maps, fishing tips by species, and fishing forecasts. Many of these resources are available right at your fingertips with the HuntFish OH mobile app. Fishing regulations and an interactive fishing map can be located from any mobile device. For more information on fishing tips and forecasts, go to wildohio.gov.

These locations are great places to catch a Fish Ohio! qualifying trophy. The Fish Ohio program celebrates amazing catches of 25 species of fish. Those who reel in a qualifying catch receive a commemorative Fish Ohio pin for their first entry, and a Master Angler pin for catching four different qualifying species in the same year. This year, the pin features a longear sunfish.

Here are a few species in central Ohio anglers may want to pursue:


Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, and Perry counties) – Buckeye Lake has been a top saugeye destination for years. In 2023, it was one of the best inland waters for Fish Ohio-qualifying saugeye (minimum length 21 inches). Division of Wildlife fish management staff confirmed Buckeye Lake’s saugeye prominence with a fall 2023 survey which showed that 83% of the lake’s saugeye population was of a keeper size (15 inches). Rocky, main lake areas and channels with deep water should be excellent places to catch saugeye. In the summer, boat-based anglers can find success with saugeye by trolling crankbaits or worm harnesses through open water. The daily limit in Buckeye Lake is six saugeye, with a minimum size requirement of 15 inches.


Deer Creek Lake (Fayette and Pickaway counties) – Deer Creek Lake is one of central Ohio’s best hotspots for large crappie. Both black and white crappie abound. Anglers are likely to find success by targeting submerged brush piles and trees throughout the reservoir. These feisty sport fish can be caught on light tackle. The daily limit at Deer Creek Lake is 30 crappie, with a minimum size requirement of 9 inches.

Hoover Reservoir (Delaware and Franklin counties) – Hoover Reservoir is known for excellent catch rates for crappie. Anglers who find schools of larger fish will have the most success filling their cooler, although many smaller fish are likely to be caught. Fish near shore cover in June as crappie move to shallower water to spawn. The daily limit at Hoover Reservoir is 30 crappie, with a minimum size requirement of 9 inches.

Smallmouth Bass

Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Alum Creek Lake has long been known as a largemouth bass destination, but it has recently gained a reputation for great smallmouth bass fishing. Abundant submerged aquatic vegetation in the lake provide plentiful habitat for smallmouth bass. As the water temperature warms, bass move to offshore structure in the main lake. Many smallmouth anglers catch 4-pound and heavier bass from Alum. Boat anglers often target large points or drop-offs with plastic baits or crankbaits. Alternatively, shoreline anglers can find success all season fishing in vegetated areas with plastic creature baits or topwater lures. Bordering state park property provides unlimited shoreline access. Boat anglers can use four public boat launches as well as the marina on the western side. Alum Creek Lake’s daily limit is five bass, with a minimum length requirement of 12 inches.

Blue Catfish

Hoover Reservoir (Delaware and Franklin counties) – Consistently ranked as the best catfish fishery in central Ohio, Hoover Reservoir has great numbers of large channel and blue catfish. Blue catfish were first stocked in 2011, and the oldest individuals have already surpassed 40 pounds. Generally, the northern section of the lake (above Sunbury Road) hosts the best catfishing. Using cut bait is a widely successful technique. The daily limit for blue catfish is one fish 35 inches or longer, with no limit on shorter fish. Hoover Reservoir has a 10-horsepower limit on outboard motors. The reservoir has five boat launches, including popular accesses at Walnut Street, Redbank, and the newly renovated Oxbow launch.

Check the Ohio Fishing Regulations for details before casting a line.

Follow the Division of Wildlife on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for instant news stories, outdoor recreation ideas, local wildlife information, and incredible wildlife imagery. Visit the Wild Ohio Harvest Community page at wildohio.gov for information on getting started fishing, upcoming events, and delicious recipes.

The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.

In 2024, join ODNR as it celebrates 75 years of protecting Ohio’s natural resources and providing outstanding and award-winning recreational opportunities.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at www.ohiodnr.gov.

Info from ODNR

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